If the title of this post made you think I was planning to wax poetic about a masterfully sexy, avant-garde position that you could excite your husband with in the bedroom tonight, you’re out of luck. (Unless, of course, you enjoy experimenting with food…) That said, you might find the subject matter speaks your language anyway: this week, I’m dishing about chocolate! I’ve honestly never been the kind of girl who craves chocolate. When I do, one little semi-sweet chip is more than enough to satisfy me. I typically lean more toward the salty and savory, rather than the sweet. I have gone through phases where I’ve salivated over the thought of spicy tuna sushi rolls, dreamed of homemade pappardelle pasta with lamb ragu, pined for eggplant parmesan, and hungered for an all-American hot dog. There was even a week or two, a few years back, when I couldn’t get my mind off of radishes. Seriously… radishes. No, I wasn’t pregnant; I was just being weird. But lately, I seem to be headed for Chocoholics Anonymous. I’m fairly certain the obsession began with this year’s stash of Girl Scout cookies, which I suppose I can credit to my husband. I’m sure he didn’t know he was contributing to my confectionery delinquency when he so sweetly surprised me with them on Valentine’s Day. But he has created a full-fledged Girl Scout cookie monster. We’re down to only a few boxes of Samoas and Tagalongs, my two favorites, and I’m not sure what I’m capable of once they’ve been consumed. I may become a cookie poacher. Hide your kids, hide your Girl Scout badges.
If I’m being honest with myself, a love for chocolate was inevitable. When I was a little girl, I recall my mother taking me for leisurely “walks” around the block, during which we would somehow wind up at the nearby market. We would often leave the checkout counter with a gallon of milk and a grocery bag full of candy bars. Miraculously, those candy bars would disappear in no time flat, leaving me to wonder who was stealing all of our treats. A bonbon-burgling bandit, perhaps? Of course, in retrospect, I chuckle shrewdly at the memory. I’m glad my mom got her self-soothing in somehow. With four kids, sitting down with a glass of milk and a Mounds bar must have felt like a vacation to Tahiti. But despite her strong affinity, I’ve never really indulged my sweet tooth. Until now, that is. It isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed a dessert while out to an anniversary dinner with my husband, or that I haven’t made a Thanksgiving pie from time to time, but the instances have been few and far between. You won’t find me drowning my sorrows in a pint of double chocolate chip ice cream; you’ll find me drowning them in a glass of full-bodied Cabernet accompanied by a medium rare steak. I am my father’s daughter. So it has been strangely satisfying to find myself desiring chocolate with the sense of urgency my mom used to, and I’m having to get creative now that Girl Scout cookie season is coming to a close. Which brings me to…
A few weeks ago, during our weekly Costco trip, my hubby spotted a rather large box of brownie mix. Given my recent fascination with sweets, I agreed we should splurge on it. Though I am quite passionate about cooking, finding time to bake is not on my radar. After a long day of keeping Gray and five dogs out of trouble, picking up miscellaneous squeaky toys, prying hardened crackers off my clothes, and trying to get work and dinner done, baking sounds as delightful as a carriage ride to Hell. But boxed brownies? If the road to Hell is paved with pre-made brownie mix, I might just saunter down it. (Did I just write a metaphor that suggests I’m willingly going to Hell? Geez. This sugar high is making me loopy. I thank you not to take that literally.) Anyway, we brought the brownie mix home, and I discovered I don’t mind baking after all. You know, as long as it just means adding a few ingredients together and throwing a dish in the oven for a while. Yes, yes, I know; by definition, that’s what “baking” is. Please bear with me here! Being a serious foodie, I thought I couldn’t possibly find any culinary inspiration in boxed goods. I was wrong. A few batches of brownies later, I became motivated to doctor up the store-bought mix and create more unique variations of the easy, no-fuss dessert. And isn’t ”no fuss” what it’s all about? Unless, of course, you’re someone like the fabulous Sandy, at Firefly Confections, who somehow manages to be mommy to two kids AND make the most killer caramels you could possibly dream of. My envy of her skills is unbecoming, but present nonetheless. I’d like to be her honorary family member for a week so I can feast to my heart’s content. (Hint, hint, Sandy!) Instead, she’ll probably wince at my pseudo-baking recipe listed below. But I digress. Even if you don’t have hours to spend whipping up desserts worthy of Paula Deen, you can still manage this recipe… It is simple, swift, mommy-friendly baking at it’s finest!
My “Hot Mamasita” Brownies
(To be consumed after the kids are asleep, with no judgment passed if you eat all of the gooey goodness in one sitting!)
Recipe created by Jenna von Oy
1 Package Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix
1/3 Cup water
1/3 Cup vegetable oil
1 Handful semi-sweet chocolate chips (Go big or go home!)
2 Tsp. Finely ground pink peppercorns (I grind them in our coffee bean mill)
½ Tsp.-1 Tsp. Cayenne pepper (the amount is directly related to how ablaze you’d like your tongue to be…)
½ Tsp. Cinnamon
¼ Tsp. Cardamom
~Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
~Follow the instructions on the brownie mix box, until it tells you to put the pan in the oven. It will incorporate the water, oil, and egg.
~Add chocolate chips, peppercorns, cayenne, cinnamon and cardamom. Mix well.
~Pour batter into lightly greased pan, and continue following brownie mix instructions for appropriate baking times.
Voilà!! Wishing you some quiet time that satisfies your inner Chocoholic…
Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,
Jenna von Oy
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